Key Stage 4 (Years 9, 10 and 11)

What is the content of the Course and what skills will be taught?

Students who study separate sciences (biology, chemistry and physics) have the opportunity to develop their scientific understanding in depth.  Students who study separate sciences develop a systematic knowledge of science and the skills needed to apply this knowledge to new and changing situations.

Students plan and carry out a range of investigations, evaluating critically their own data and that obtained from other sources, and using ICT where appropriate.  They also learn to evaluate in terms of their scientific knowledge and understanding, the benefits and drawbacks of scientific and technological developments, including those related to the environment, personal health and quality of life, alongside the ethical issues which may arise.

Broad areas of study:

  • Cell biology
  • Organisation
  • Infection and response
  • Bioenergetics
  • Homeostasis and response
  • Inheritance, variation and evolution
  • Ecology

Examination (100% of total marks)

Two papers that are 1 hour 45 minutes each (100%) for each of the sciences

What skills will be developed?

During both these course you will develop skills that will enable you to:

  • Present or process a set of data in such a manner as to bring out any patterns that are present.
  • State conclusions based on these patterns.
  • Relate your conclusions to scientific theories or understanding.
  • Carry out research into a scientific topic that is currently in the news.
  • Make informed decisions about the topic you research.
  • Plan investigations.
  • Analyse and evaluate data and methods.

Key Stage 5 (Years 12 and 13)

Course Description

The course sees students developing knowledge and understanding of biological concepts, principles and facts.  The aims of the course are to encourage students to:

  • Develop their interest and enthusiasm for biology, including developing an interest in further study and careers in biology
  • Appreciate how society makes decisions about scientific issues and how the sciences contribute to the success of the economy and society
  • Develop and demonstrate a deeper appreciation of the skills, knowledge and understanding of How Science Works
  • Develop essential knowledge and understanding in different areas of biology and how they relate to each other
  • The course suits students with enquiring minds and a real interest in the natural world

Course Outline

AS Paper 1 Biological Molecules, Cells, Organisms and their Environment, Genetics, Variation and Relationships between Organisms (Written paper: 2 hours, 35% of the A Level marks)

All life on Earth shares a common chemistry which provides indirect evidence for evolution. The study of carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, nucleic acids and water provide the basic building blocks that allow further topics to be delivered. GCSE knowledge of cells is expanded by looking at prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, their structures and the interactions between different types of cell. The exchange of substances between the internal and external environments of cells and in large organisms is covered next by looking at active transport, diffusion, digestion absorption and osmosis.

The differences between species and the differences between individuals within a species are examined by looking at genetic and environmental factors before focusing on the structure of DNA and protein synthesis. Genetic diversity due to gene mutation, chromosome mutation and random factors is covered here as well.

A Level

Paper 2:  Energy Transfers, Organisms Responses to Change, Genetics, Populations, Evolution and Ecosystems and the Control of Gene Expression (Written Paper: 2 hours, 35% of the A Level marks)

Life depends on continuous transfers of energy so the processes of photosynthesis and respiration begin the second year of study. This is followed by how living things interact with their environments. Stimuli, receptors, coordinators and effectors are studied as part of the nervous system whilst hormones and their target cells are studied as part of the endocrine systems of mammals and the hormone-like growth substances used by plants.

The second year concludes with the theory of evolution and classification. DNA is looked at again as the ‘universal’ genetic code, together with how an individual inherits alleles from their parents. The variation in organisms due to genetic and environmental factors is discussed, and population numbers and competition within and between species are the last topics covered.

Paper 3: Combined paper and practical skills (Written Paper: 2 hours, 30% of the A Level marks)

This paper will ask questions on any of the content from course, including the relevant practical skills. It will consist of structured questions, including the practical techniques used in the course, a critical analysis of sample experimental data and an essay question from a choice of two titles.

You are also assessed on your practical skills.  This is done over the 2 year course in school and will give you a separate practical skills endorsement.  It does not go towards your A Level grade.

Career Opportunities

Biologists are employed in many areas including agriculture, bioengineering, veterinary science, medical research, medicine, teaching, forestry, marine studies, health care, biochemistry and biophysics.

Progression to University

This course contains some overlap with A Level Chemistry and Geography in the areas of biochemistry, environmental science and microbiology – it is essential for medical related degrees where the highest possible grade is necessary.

Entry Requirements

You will need to have achieved at least grade ‘B’ in ‘Core’ and ‘Additional’ Science or in Biology and a grade ‘B’ in Maths to study Biology advanced level courses.


Spiritual Development Within Science

  • STEM Cell Research – KS4 & KS5 Biology.
  • Drug Testing – KS4 & KS5 Biology.
  • Animal Rights – KS4 & KS5 Biology.
  • Environmental Industrial Impact – KS4 Science.
  • Genetic Modification – KS4 & KS5 Biology.
  • Biotechnology – KS4.
  • Ramifications Of Atomic Energy – KS4.
  • Miller-Urey Experiment On Formation Of Life – KS4.

Moral Development Within Science

  • Science Week Assembly – All years.
  • STEM Cell Research – KS4 & KS5 Biology.
  • Drug Testing – KS4 & KS5 Biology.
  • Animal Rights – KS4 & KS5 Biology.
  • Environmental Industrial Impact – KS4 Science.
  • Genetic Modification – KS4 & KS5 Biology.
  • Biotechnology – KS4.
  • Use Of Biodegradable Materials – KS4.
  • Implications Of Energy Policy – KS4.

Social Development Within Science

  • Fertilisation And Child Development – KS3 Biology.
  • Lifestyle – KS3, KS4 & KS5 Biology.
  • Diet – KS3, KS4 & KS5 Biology.
  • Energy Efficiency – KS4.
  • Global Warming – KS4.
  • Alternative Fuels – KS4.

Cultural Development Within Science

  • Development Of Scientific Ideas – KS3, KS4 & KS5 Science.
  • Speciation – KS4 & KS5 Biology.
  • Evolution – KS4 & KS5 Biology.
  • The Big Bang – KS4.
  • The Shape And Composition Of The Solar System – KS3 & KS4.

British Values

In Biology we actively seek to thoughtfully promote British Values alongside our SMSC responsibilities wherever possible, including the following:

  • Democracy, lawfulness, respect, tolerance and freedom
  • Critical evaluation of controversial issues, including the way they are represented in the media and recognising bias
  • Knowledge of current affairs and geo-religious and socio-political topics
  • Sensitively explore and encounter opinions, identities and issues of diversity
  • Develop as global citizens who can relate to, appreciate, and debate difference in others
  • Participate to engage and improve knowledge, awareness, and tolerance; and challenge ignorance and extremism